A few months ago (at the beginning of Lockdown 2 here in the UK), my husband Martin was complaining about how much time he was spending on his phone. He has hobbies, lots of them, but he is a very active and outdoorsy person and has struggled with being stuck in our local area far more than I have. Without camping, hiking, climbing, cycling and trail running he’s definitely been at a loss for much of the last year. Stuck inside, he’s spent hours scrolling on his phone looking at the endless cycle of depressing news stories and the disappointing social media posts of acquaintances not taking the rules seriously. I suggested he needed something to do with his hands to keep him away from doom scrolling and he decided to take up knitting!
It was enjoyable to pass on some knowledge, and knitting was quickly acknowledged as a good way to keep his hands busy. He chose the Classic Cuffed Hat from Purl Soho and some of my aran scraps to get started and off he went. My husband is a very fast learner and it took just a few days before he was sitting wearing a hat he had made!
After that, he wanted to have a go at knitting a sweater. If you are looking to learn or teach someone to knit, we can highly recommend the Simple Collection from Tin Can Knits, it is a collection of free knitting patterns aimed at beginners. These simple patterns range from a super easy scarf and gaining in complexity through to socks, sweaters and a cardigan. Martin chose the Flax Sweater and some yarn from my stash that I had bought to make him a cardigan and hadn’t yet (whoops!). Again, he picked up the techniques quickly and whizzed through it in no time. All of the Tin Can Knits patterns are available in ‘baby-to-big’ sizing so as soon as he finished his own sweater, he made a matching one for our son – I have never knitted a sweater for our son so Martin is officially putting me to shame now! After these two sweaters he declared himself ready to try stranded colourwork, and knit himself a sweater with a colour-work yoke, then knit himself a cardigan as well as a couple of ties for work – all in the last five months!
Patterns for men/masculine bodies
One of the biggest challenges has been finding nice patterns that would fit him well. There is a distinct gap in the market for nice patterns specifically aimed at masculine folks. A lot of the patterns aimed at ‘men’ are quite traditional and knit flat, we both love knitting in the round and have been quite surprised at the lack of masculine patterns that are knit in the round. Fortunately, there are a lot of designers that are designing gender neutral patterns and they have been working brilliantly for my husband so far. As long as there isn’t bust or waist shaping written into a pattern, it will likely suit most bodies and so far the only adjustment he’s repeatedly had to make is adding length to all sleeves – which at over 6ft tall isn’t exactly surprising!
What he taught me
I know it’s a bit cheesy to say that I learned as much from my husband as he learned from me, but I am genuinely surprised by how much I have learned since Martin started knitting. He is a lot more fearless than I am and is less attached to his completed knits – this means that after a few wears if something isn’t right, he is happy to rip back and re-knit something to make it even better. This mostly applies to sleeves that he has decided are too short after wearing the sweater a few times, but he has also ripped out a full collar/button band on a cardigan and re-knit it to improve the fit. Ripping back any part of a successful garment is something I had NEVER done until Martin learned to knit. Sure, I’ve scrapped half-finished projects and pulled the yarn out when I’ve decided not to continue knitting something, but pulling back anything that I’ve finished for the sake of ‘improving’ it is something I would never have done before now!
After seeing him pull back the cuffs on his sweaters and knitting them to make them longer, it gave me the courage to pull back the wrists of one of my recently completed sweaters and knit cuffs on them. The Hinterland sweater I wrote about here is designed to have a cast off edge at the end of the sleeves, and after a few wears I felt like it looked a bit unfinished. I wished I had gone off-pattern and knitted a ribbed cuff at the end of each sleeve. Thanks to Martin’s fearlessness, I spent an evening pulling back a few rows and knitting a 1×1 ribbed cuff on the end of each sleeve and I like the sweater so much more now!
You can see the before and after pictures of my cuffs above. The rolled cuffs on the left is how the pattern is written, the ribbed cuff on the right is how I amended it a few weeks after completing it.
Having a shared interest
We’ve been in lockdown here in the UK for most of the five months since Martin started knitting, it’s been nice to be living with someone else who shares the same hobby and we have enjoyed lots of conversations, joint yarn-shopping and knitting together in the evenings. Don’t get me wrong, he always happily listened to me talking about knitting before picking it up himself but it’s a whole different ball game when he shares the same interest too! I enthusiastically listen to him talking about all of his other hobbies, but I am sure if I was also a cyclist or a rock climber I could probably engage a lot more by also understanding what it feels like to ascend an E1 climb or cycle a certain route.
Not enough needles!
The only knitting disagreement we’ve had so far was when we both wanted to use my only pair of 4mm circular knitting needles! We suddenly found ourselves both needing the same size needle and if the shops were open I could’ve just popped out and bought another pair but alas we were still in lockdown! Fortunately the lovely people at Pony sent Martin some gorgeous Pony Flair 4mm needle tips and they are lovely – I was definitely jealous! They are hand painted wooden needle tips and they are smooth and colourful and I have been using them myself as they are so nice.
Fortunately shortly after that, Groves Ltd offered to send Martin a set of Pony Colour 3mm-5mm needles of his own and of course, he absolutely jumped at the chance. They are slick and easy to use, the small felt case has everything he needs in one place including needle tips, cables, joins and end knobs, honestly it’s lovely to see him using his own set (and it’s nice we both have our own sets!)
If you are thinking about taking up knitting, both Martin and I can highly recommend it. I’ve written a blog post on the mental health benefits of crafting and I wrote this piece for LoveCrafts on the 10 Reasons Making Makes Me Happy.
If you are interested in the knitting needles and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org and they will get back to you!
Disclaimer: ⭐️ Pony Knitting Needle set was provided free of charge as a PR sample with no obligation to post.